Bronx BP, BFTA, Shawn Dove headline fatherhood conference

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.  spoke at the BFTA Conference.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. , spoke at the BFTA Conference.

By Carmen Glover

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. joined members of his brainchild committee, Bronx Fathers Taking Action (BFTA), keynote speaker Shawn Dove and supporters in braving the non-stop rain on Saturday, March 29, for the second annual Bronx Fathers Taking Action conference.

The event was held at 2500 Halsey Street in the Bronx headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Fathers from diverse backgrounds filled the room, some accompanied by their sons and daughters. The air was electric with anticipation and conversations buzzed as the event geared up to start. The theme of the event was “Sons of Today, Fathers of Tomorrow.”

Rev Wyatt gave the opening prayer

The Rev  Dr. Alfonso Wyatt, a former educator,  gave the opening prayer and also participated as a panelist by sharing his views and providing context and insight.

Andre Peterson, the event’s chairman, started the event and then introduced the Reverend Dr. Alfonso Wyatt, who delivered the opening prayer. Ronald Hartridge and Felix Leo Campos, co-chars of the BFTA, provided an overview of the committee by sharing its mission statement, eliciting applause and murmurs of agreement when they spoke.

“The Bronx Borough President formed this group two years ago and made this men the co-chairs,” said Peterson as he introduced the men.

“This is a movement, it’s not just something to do. I grew up in the Bronx and raised my family in Co-op City,” said Hartridge. “This committee of Bronx fathers will focus proactively on engaging, empowering, educating and encouraging fathers. Our objective is to enlighten and advocate for fathers in our borough and facilitate a path towards productive parenthood. Our goal is to provide resources and new relationships to reinforce fathers as positive role models.” Campos agreed, echoing details about the origin of the committee.

Ronald Hartridge

Ronald Hartridge, co-chair of BFTA, spoke passionately about the importance of fathers being involved in the lives of their children and the importance of the BFTA expanding and growing.

The men indicated that they have identified several areas where their efforts will be targeted: mentoring, fathers’ rights advocacy, financial literacy and education. Each conference will launch the focus on one key area. The focus identified at Saturday’s conference was mentoring.

“I was born here in the Bronx and was a teenager in the late ’80s,” the borough president said when he addressed the gathering. “I am a father myself and you all know my father, Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr. I grew up on Watson Avenue, saw many bad things. My father wasn’t too comfortable talking to my brother and I about certain things so we both became teenaged parents.”


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz met with attendees after delivering his speech.

Diaz explained how he transferred from one high school to another because “I was in love with a young lady so I transferred, chasing after her. Well, Hilda and I are still in love. At the age of 21 I was a father of two.” Several men in the room nodded in recognition as Diaz talked about his past, especially when he stated:

“My family was one of the few where both mother and father were in the household.”

Diaz explained that with the borough celebrating 100 years and seeing over “$600 billions in investment,” it is important that “we prepare young men so that they are not forced out due to gentrification,” which he described as “other people will be coming in and we will be forced out.” Issuing a challenge to the men gathered, Diaz said:” When you speak of violence and crime the one denominator is usually young men who didn’t have support so shame on us, shame on me if we don’t start to lay down that foundation so the Bronx develops these young men.”

shawn dove

Keynote Speaker Shawn Dove listens attentively as the Borough President speaks.

Keynote speaker Shawn Dove, who has worked in youth development for decades, thanked the borough president for his “honesty and transparency,” as he began his speech, saying as he looked at the men: “The iconic leadership that we are waiting for are right here in this room.” Dove then spoke about his upbringing and the role of women in his life:

“I want to acknowledge our women. I am a product of a single parent home with a Jamaican mother. I grew up in the Bronx and we are standing here fighting for our sons, our brothers, our wives and our fathers. Some people build monuments but the Bronx is building a movement,” he said as the men applauded.

He spoke about the importance of having mentors, acknowledging Wyatt as one of his. Dove disclosed how the Wyatt influenced him with words, and he shared one of the lessons that he learned from him years agi. Reflecting on that impact he said: “The right word from the right person at the right time can change your life.”


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz awards citation to Shawn Dove after his speech.

Dove explained that it is important for men to realize that it is acceptable to cry and he recalled being brought to tears in the past as he considered the plight of young men. “I cried and wondered who is crying for our sons,” he said, explaining that “We have to instill into our young men that they can reach out to us and say: ‘I need help’ because every young man needs help.”

He described the BFTA as being instrumental in providing that help. “The BFTA is a fight. We have to sound the alarm in the Bronx. If the Bronx is going to lead we have to raise the awareness, train fathers because 23 million children wake up each morning without their biological fathers.”

After delivering his speech, Dove was awarded a citation by the borough president. Also, all the members of BFTA who were in attendance were awarded citations as well.

“To the Bronx Fathers Taking Action, none of them is getting paid a dime. They all have their children and grandchildren at home. With that attitude we will be the model, the paradigm by which other boroughs are judged,” Diaz said in presenting the citations to the BFTA members.

After the citations were presented, the attendees broke for a lunch break which featured singing by a female duo and a spoken word performance, by Glen Jenkins that was gripping from beginning to the end.



Glen Jenkins, spoken work performer from the Church of God of Prophecy on East 165th Street, delivered a searing poem that riveted the audience and brought them to their feet in appreciation.

Jenkins recited his original poem, “The Truth,” which called for action and activism. His delivery was riveting and his words were strong and powerful. His performance was warmly received and from his manner and tone it was evident that he was driven by a desire to share his message as widely and often as he can.

After the lunch break, the event resumed with a panel discussion during which panelists shared their experiences as mentors to children and the impact such interactions have in the lives of the mentees. Audience members asked various questions and respectful dialogue ensued.

The conference also featured display tables where a modest group showcased their organizations. Among the entities who had representatives distributing literature and keepsakes were: Bright Futures Tutoring  Services and The Akira Center.


Panelists Rafael Fornes, III, fathers’ advocate (l) and Melvin Alston (r), Responsible Fathers Coalition, Administration for Childrens’ Services (ACS) provided insight as panelists.

The members of the BFTA who attended the event were: Hartridge, Campos, Vincent Adams, who was the master of ceremonies; Kenneth Alexander from the Real Dads Network, Jamal Bowman, John Fielder, Fornes, Dr. Patrick Gannon, Jose Gonzalez, Theodore James, Peterson, Jose Manuel Pichardo and Robert Powell from the Bronx BP’s Panel for Educational Policy. Charles H. Oruam and the Rev. Dr. Robert Smith, Jr. did not attend.

Dove left the gathering with three steps to changing the circumstances for young men: “Teach them how to transform pain into power, build strategic partnerships and develop the gold in our young people,’ he said. Diaz endorsed the sentiment and added: “When we approach young men we have to redefine how a man is and should be. We’ve been stuck in this mental box about how we should comport ourselves.”

Fornes emphasized “the importance of pairing fathers with children who need mentors,” while Alston talked about Bronx Visions, a group formed by men from ACS who go to specific schools during the men’s lunch break, to mentor children. “We talk to them about their behavior and achievement,” he explained. But the tone of warning was issued by Wyatt.

“We are in deep trouble as a community,” he said. “There are so many children in need of direction and guidance. Mentoring takes time.”

From all indications, the men who comprise the BFTA are up to the challenge and determined to fill the need as well as expand their reach, one child at a time.

For more information about the Bronx Fathers Taking Action (BFTA), contact Monica Major, director of education and youth services at Tel: 718-590-3515 or email–

Please follow us on Twitter @OnPointPress_.


Women’s team sports still face popularity and financial challenges in the U.S.

The 2013 Women's UConn Huskies got a chance to meet President Obama after winning the NCAA championship last year.

The 2013 Women’s UConn Huskies got a chance to meet President Obama after winning the NCAA championship last year.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Monday, March 31, 2014, the women’s University of Connecticut Huskies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will continue their individual pursuit for perfection this basketball season. With the women’s NCAA tournament underway, both UConn and Notre Dame need two more victories to setup an unprecedented showdown between two unbeaten teams for the national championship. UConn is hoping to repeat as national champions while Notre Dame is hoping to finally reach the zenith in their sport. As phenomenal an event this would be to watch, this potential outcome has generated very little buzz.

Lusia Harris was a groundbreaker in women's sports as college basketball player, Olympian, and NBA draft pick..

Lusia Harris was a groundbreaker in women’s sports as college basketball player, Olympian, and NBA draft pick..

Women’s collegiate sports has seen tremendous advances since the passing of Title IX in 1972 – the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal assistance. In the wake of the recent ruling that allows for Northwestern football players to unionize, it is helpful to remember the struggles that female college athletes have faced when trying to earn fair opportunities.

In women’s team sports, there have been fewer stars with sustaining power when compared to male team sports. There was momentum building in the mid 1970’s with interest in women’s basketball due to Lusia Harris from Delta State University in Mississippi. She helped bring the sport to the forefront with a silver medal finish in the first ever women’s basketball tournament in the Olympics in 1976. The president at Delta State would later decree a Lusia Harris Day by describing Harris as a “basketball star, world traveler, Olympic medalist, and All-American.” Harris would continue to make history as being the first and only woman officially selected in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft by the New Orleans Jazz in 1977. She never played in the NBA but her Olympic exploits helped propel women’s basketball into the next decade.

Nancy Lieberman had exceptional success as a college player, a professional player in multiple leagues, and as a coach.

Nancy Lieberman had exceptional success as a college player, a professional player in multiple leagues, and as a coach.

In the years following Harris there were two women’s college basketball players who gained major interest and excitement, Nancy Lieberman and Cheryl Miller. Lieberman earned the nickname “Lady Magic” as a reference to playing like Earvin “Magic” Johnson. She led her Old Dominion Monarchs to the national championship in 1979 and 1980. Miller, older sister of NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, was the first to make the family name famous while dominating at the University of Southern California.

Hall of Fame player Cheryl Miller was a transcendent player in the 1980's.

Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller was a transcendent basketball player in the 1980’s, who is described in admiring tones by current players.

“That’s something you’d remember forever,” remarked her high school basketball coach, Floyd Evans, as he reflected on the night she scored 105 points in a single game in her senior year.

The NCAA decided to sponsor the women’s basketball tournament in 1982. Miller led the Trojans to the NCAA championship in 1983 and 1984 while being named tournament MVP in both years. Miller also led the U.S. women’s team to the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. Miller was so dominant in her run at USC that the school retired her #31 jersey in 1986, becoming the first basketball player, male or female, to receive such an honor from USC at that time.

Sheryl Swoopes (l), Lisa Leslie (c), and Rebecca Lobo (r) were part of the inaugural class of the WNBA.

Sheryl Swoopes (l), Lisa Leslie (c), and Rebecca Lobo (r) were part of the inaugural class of the WNBA.

The struggle women’s team sports has had in sustaining popularity for their players who became popular in college is that there were few professional women’s league that had long time sustainability. Things changed in 1996 when the NBA financially supported the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBA). Since its inception, the WNBA has had several women transition from college basketball recognition to WNBA stardom. Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi, and Skylar Diggins represent some of the biggest names to enter the WNBA since 1996.

Julie Foudy (l), Mia Hamm (c), and Kristine Lilly (r) were part of a dominant stretch in women's soccer that included 2 World Cup titles and multiple Olympic gold medals.

Julie Foudy (l), Mia Hamm (c), and Kristine Lilly (r) were part of a dominant stretch in women’s soccer that included 2 World Cup titles and multiple Olympic gold medals.

While women’s basketball continues to have a professional league, it is not the only team sport women have excelled in. The U.S. women’s soccer team has been a powerful force in team sports, gaining immense success since the early 1990’s. They won the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991 and won again in 1999. Also, they won the Olympic gold medal at all but one of the summer games since 1996. Those teams were led by Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, and Mia Hamm. Hamm would become one of the biggest soccer stars in the sport. Donna de Varona, chair of the 1999 Women’s World Cup Organization Committee described the period:

“You saw 90,000 people packed in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California…fathers, daughters, families…cheering on these great players.”

Hope Solo's status as one of the most popular soccer players earns her a higher salary than her average contemporaries.

Hope Solo’s status as one of the most popular soccer players earns her a higher salary than her average contemporaries.

While the achievement gap between men and women has closed when it comes to performance in team sports, the gap between financial reward remains far apart. Women’s team sports still struggles to attract the fan base that can bring advertising dollars to their sports. It is clear that the distinction between individual and team sports for women changes the earning potential. For example, the average salary for the U.S. National Women’s Team (Soccer) is $25,000 a year whereas MLS salaries start at $32,000 per year for the men and often rises to the millions.

2013 WNBA MVP Candace Parker is one of the highest earning players in her sport, but her salary pales in comparison to her male counterparts.

2013 WNBA MVP Candace Parker is one of the highest earning players in her sport, but her salary pales in comparison to her male counterparts.

A more extreme example comes in recognizing that the maximum paid salary in the WNBA is $107,000 per year compared to the $30 million Kobe Bryant earned this season in the NBA. There is no doubt that these women are as exceptional in their profession as their male counterparts are in theirs. Hopefully, in the near future, women’s team sports will receive the proper recognition and see their revenue grow to a level that allows for most female athletes to live comfortably in team sports.––

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on

Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, literary giants whose works inspire

pulizer prize

Pulitzer Prize-winning literary icon Toni Morrison has set the bar high for writers, helping to make a solid mark in the pantheon of literature and education.

By Onissa Sancho

Women’s History Month is celebrated in March to recognize contributions and give honor to amazing females, past and present, who have made their personal mark in a world labeled ‘a man’s world.’ is shining the spotlight on living legends Maya Angelou (birth name Marguerite Ann Johnson) and Toni Morrison (birth name Chloe Ardelia Wofford), two influential women in the literary world and the black community, especially. Only a few years apart in age, both ladies have been blessed with a way of articulating, telling stories which attract others to their masterpieces and inspire readers and budding writers to aim for the best in their work as well.


Poet, author, director, professor and activist Maya Angelou inspires women to be great as she richly describes in her lyrical poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman.’

“The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve,” reads a line from Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the first book in her seven-series autobiography. As a young girl growing in Stamps, Arkansas, Angelou, 85, enjoyed reading, which is why she writes so well. In the book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the majority of the time Angelou creates sentences that leap off the pages but there are specific moments when the reader is pleasantly caught off guard by her descriptive way of writing. Like Angelou shows in the sentence above, she  is able to use simple wording to beautifully illustrate what she is thinking and feeling. Carmen Lawrence, a native Jamaican who currently lives in New York, recalls the first time she became aware of Maya Angelou.

“I was in Brooklyn and I just happened to be looking for black literature, when I saw Angelou’s book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” she said.

Jamaican-American book lover Carmen Lawrence admires Maya Angelou's writing style.

Jamaican-American book lover Carmen Lawrence admires Maya Angelou’s writing style.

As an African-American woman, and through her constant dedication as a writer, Angelou has influenced many black people into wanting to read and write more. After reading one or all of the books in Angelou’s seven-series autobiography the reader will definitely take notice that she didn’t have an easy life. Molested as a child and being a teenage mother are just two hardships Angelou had to overcome. In spite of everything that went on in her life, she didn’t allow anything to negatively affect her progress in life.

Unlike Angelou, Morrison’s childhood was a good one despite the fact that she was the only black child in her first grade class during a time of great racial discrimination in the United States. Morrison, 83, enjoyed reading as a child but began her journey of writing at the age of 39. Nuns go by as lust, and drunken men’s sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel,” is a line from Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, the story of a young black girl who believes all her worries would not exist if she only had blue eyes.


Shannon Thomas, editor-in-chief of Seawanhaka Press at LIU Brooklyn, New York, is a fan of Toni Morrison’s literary style.

“It’s hard to digest the first time you read a Toni Morrison book,” said Shannon Thomas, who is a student and editor-in-chief of Seawanhaka Press, the student newspaper of Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. Thomas discovered Morrison in her search for black literature while in junior high school. “I haven’t come across another female writer who can stand her own next to Toni Morrison.”

Morrison’s style of writing is very distinct and can be a lot to take in, especially the very first time reading her work. The topics of her stories are relatable and most often come from the experience of reality, told through Morrison’s eyes and imagination.


Not only are both Angelou and Morrison heavy hitters in the literary community, but each has worked on outside projects which have influenced fans in a broader sense.

“Maya Angelou is well rounded in the arts,“ said  Lawrence. Young Angelou indulged herself in dancing, studying with Martha Graham and performing with Alvin Ailey; singing and recording a few albums; the first was called Calypso Lady and was produced in 1957. Angelou has also created poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, directed movies such as Down in the Delta, a 1998 Miramax Film; written a few films and is currently a professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she has taught since the 1980’s.


Toni Morrison was a textbook editor, and edited for New York City’s Random House headquarters as well as being a college professor. Teaching at a number of colleges, including Yale University, two branches of the State University of New York, Rutgers University, her most recent teaching job was held at Princeton University, where she remained until retirement in 2008. Though retired from teaching, Morrison is still writing. She began her most recent novel, Home in 2010. That same year she experienced the tragic loss of her second son; who helped her create a few children’s books. Home was completed in 2012.

Both women have won numerous awards. Morrison won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988, the Noble Prize for literature in 1993 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.  Morrison’s novel Beloved was turned into a film, starring Oprah Winfrey. Angelou won the National Medal of Arts in 2000 was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 and was nominated for a Pulitzer, Tony and Grammy Awards for spoken word.

Thanks to their impressive contributions to the world of literature, readers and writers all over the world, especially females, will remember to honor their achievements, not only during Women’s History Month but every day, in some way.–

Onissa Sancho is an intern at Please follow her on Twitter @osjou222.

Northwestern players win first battle in legal war over paying college athletes

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter continues to lead the efforts unionize college athletes.

Former Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter continues to lead the effort to unionize college athletes.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, Northwestern University’s football team received a ruling in their favor that allows for them to unionize as a workforce. The football team, led by former quarterback Kain Colter, had appealled to the Chicago branch of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to be recognized as a workforce, based on the income they generate for the university and the stipulations in place for scholarship athletes that prevent them from receiving any of the income they earn.

NLRB Peter Sung Ohr made the ruling allowing Northwestern football players to join a union.

NLRB Peter Sung Ohr made the ruling allowing Northwestern University’s football players to join a union.

The regional director of the NLRB, Peter Sung Ohr, issued a ruling allowing the Norhtwestern University football players to form a union. The are several key takeaways from Ohr’s ruling:
1) Northwestern University is a private institution so this ruling will not likely impact collegiate athletes in public and state colleges.
2) Ohr specifically highlighted $235 million in income Northwestern University’s football produced between 2003 and 2012.
3) Ohr also took into account the “50 – 60 hours per week student athletes are required to perform in order to receive the benefits of their scholarship.”
4) Ohr explained in his ruling that:

“The level of control that the university has over the football players, (dress codes, living arrangements, money restrictions, etc.) resembles the kind of control an employer has over an employee, not a school over a student.”

NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy believes the NCAA has been fair in their compensation for student-athletes.

NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy believes the NCAA has been fair in its compensation of student-athletes.

Though this ruling is a major victory for the players, the matter is far from settled. With this ruling, Northwestern University’s football players will be able to start pursuing the benefits of employees in a union. They will work towards the ability to collectively bargain for protections in work conditions, earnings, and health care coverage. Northwestern University is already on the record against the decision stating:

“We believe strongly that student-athletes are not employees, but students.”

The university has already made it clear that their legal team will appeal the decision. Northwestern University will be joined by the NCAA in their appeal efforts as the college sports body has also voiced displeasure with the ruling. NCAA chief legal officer was quoted in a statement as saying,

“We strongly disagree with the notion that student-athletes are employees.”

It is clear that this is the beginning of a legal battle that the NCAA definitely does not want to lose. Score one for the players, now it’s on to round two.––

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on

Denzel Washington returns to Broadway in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’


Multiple Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington returns to Broadway in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ The play is currently in previews and will open officially on April 3.

By Carmen Glover

Listening to morning radio is usually informative, sometimes entertaining and often funny but while driving to work on Tuesday, it was all of the above. Multiple Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington called into The Steve Harvey Morning Show to discuss his role in the revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic play, ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

Immediately as his rich baritone filled the airwaves, Shirley Strawberry and Carla Ferrell, who co-host the show with Harvey, began to giggle like irrepressible school girls. “Oh, It’s Denzel,” they gushed, unable to contain their excitement. After exchanging pleasantries, Harvey got straight to the point: “What made you decide to return to Broadway?” he asked. Washington was quick with his reply:

raisin in the sun

Denzel Washington reprises the lead role of Walter Lee Younger, played originally by Sidney Poitier,  in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

“I started in the theatre when I attended Fordham University,” he said. “I love the energy of the theatre. People in the audience react to every scene, whereas in a movie you film the scene and then it airs. In the theatre it is immediate.”

Washington explained that performing on Broadway is a great feeling for him and he feels especially blessed to be reprising a role first depicted by Poitier, who is his neighbor in Los Angeles.


Denzel Washington said that he loves performing in the theatre because it helps him connect with fans.

“I met with him and I took my son, John David, who is an actor in his own right, let me do a plug for my son,” he said to laughter. “Yes, I met with him and he is such a generous man,” he said of his visit with Poitier. He expressed being impressed and pleased to meet with Poitier and also feeling grateful that the acting legend took the time to meet with him and John David.

In response to Strawberry’s question: “What has been your favorite role of all the roles you played?” Washington replied with sure-fire speed: “My next one. It’s difficult to choose one particular role , so I just prepare for the next one.” When Thomas Miles, fondly called Nephew Tommy, asked: “Which do you prefer film, television or theatre?” Washington responded: “I don’t have to choose. I do it all.”


Denzel Washington joins LaTanya Richardson (black dress; wife of Samuel Jackson) and the other cast members of “A Raisin in the Sun.,” including Anika Noni Rose (in pink) and Sophie Okonedo.

Washington describes the play as the story of a Chicago family who “came into $10,000, which was a lot of money in 1959. I play the son who drives a limousine and we all have plans for the money. The play tells what happens to the family,” he said. Harvey asked him if there is any role that he would like to play in the future. The question elicited an interesting response from Washington.

“Well, the only thing I would like to do is a comedy tour with you because I haven’t done that yet. We should do something like that,” Washington said, sounding rather serious. Harvey was quick to respond. “I would come out of retirement to do that with you, my man. Oh, yes.”

Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in the original rendition of 'A Raisin in the Sun.'

Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in the original rendition of ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ is currently in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, which is the location where it premiered in 1959 when Poitier played the lead role. Bronx-born actress Diahann Carroll was initially slated to star in the production with Washington but she pulled out and was replaced with Richardson.  A revival of the play took place in 2004 with Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs in the lead. The play opens officially on April 3 and runs through June 15.–

Please follow us on Twitter @OnPointPress_.


Rising food prices and soft job market equals bad combination

farm bill

President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill in February 2014, offering subsidies to farmers but drastically slashing food stamps for struggling families who are hurt by rising food prices.

By Carmen Glover

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the prices of food in all categories have been increasing steadily, as much as 0.4 percent in February alone, which is a source of concern for families across the country. The consistent increase in food prices place an undue burden on struggling families because this new development means that it will be more difficult for families to feed their households. But the added impact of a soft job market which has seen jobs added at a slower pace than expected makes the impact even stronger, since the stagnant job numbers show the difficulties involved in moving from poverty and low-paying jobs despite diligent efforts by potential employees.

impact on the poor

The new Farm Bill signed by the President a month ago preserves subsidies for farmers at the expense of the poor who rely on food stamps.

The toll on low-income and poor households in which families rely on governmental food subsidies such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP), formerly described as the food stamp program, is especially egregious. This new reality causes the most vulnerable in society, including children and the elderly, to be placed at risk of going hungry in a country that prides itself on being described as the richest country in the world.

SNAP funds were drastically reduced by $8 billion earlier this year after a lengthy political fight in Congress during which the poor were constantly demonized by legislatures who appear to be incapable of understanding the plight of the poor. As a result of the political discord, the farm bill’s passage was delayed for months before its eventually passage a month ago. However, the bill, which includes cuts to SNAP, increased subsidies for farmers at the expense of SNAP recipients. President Obama signed the bill into law a month ago.

food stamps cut

Marguerite Purvis, an advocate for the poor, has consistently expressed concerns about the drastic cuts in food stamps under the Farm Bill.

The results have been devastating for families, many of whom have been forced to troll pantries and soup kitchens for hot meals. With the paucity of jobs available, combined with the rising prices for food, even the employed are finding it difficult to meet all household expenses, adding strain to the family budget. The uncertain weather conditions have negatively affected food crops as well, which in turn weakens the produce that is available for harvesting and that, in turn, causes the prices of the available food to increase.

It is unclear how families will survive as difficult choices are made regarding paying bills including rent/mortgage versus purchasing food but it is clear that families are hurting. Unless a feasible measure is implemented to correct this situation by expanding food subsidies and broadening the scope of food produce so that the prices can be lowered, many families will be forced to continue going hungry.

farm bill

The recent Farm Bill has seriously affected low-income households.

The situation needs ongoing monitoring to see which solutions are offered and put in place to address food insecurity. Caveats are needed before the circumstances for families become so eroded and strained that more people find it impossible to support themselves and provide the basic needs for their family, even if they are working outside the home in jobs each day.

Please follow us on Twitter @OnPointPress_.

NCAA March Madness vs. NBA draft policy: Are changes needed? (Part I)

The logo for the NBA draft.

The NBA Draft Logo is on the minds of March Madness players who hope to make the leap to the NBA this summer, but as debate heats up it is clear that changes should be considered.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As March Madness continues to draw more basketball fans to the television, the topic of players making it to the National Basketball Association (NBA) frequently comes up. The current model for the NBA draft allows for players to declare for the draft a year after graduation from high school. The common route for exceptional players is to spend a year in college playing basketball before declaring for the draft, a prospect that many are unhappy with and constantly discuss.

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West

NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West has shared his views about the draft policy.

It is clear that the current NBA draft model is unpopular with many fans and players. Among the complaints with the model are the claims that NBA product is being compromised, the NCAA product is disturbed, and that the majority of the young players are unprepared for the fame, fortune, and high expectations. Although there is validity in some of these concerns, there are also exaggerations attached as well. Hall of Famer Jerry West, recently commented on the issue, in assessing the NBA talent pool.

“The NBA is in the worst shape it’s ever been,'” he said. One of the reasons for his critique was based on the number of young players yet to mature into what they were expected to as they were brought into the league. Another Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, took it a step further by making it very clear that players need more time.

“I want kids to stay in college for two years…bad teams aren’t getting help, they’re getting projects,” Barkley said.

Barkley has been vocal as a March Madness commentator in sharing his opinion that college players need a minimum of two years in college to mature enough to be productive in the NBA as soon as they are drafted.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley

Hall of Famer /TNT and March Madness Commentator Charles Barkley has consistently stated that potential NBA players need a minimum of two years in college in order to develop their game.

While West and Barkley are focusing on negative aspects of young players drafted in the NBA, they are completely absolving the executives that are paid millions to evaluate and enhance the performance of the young players they bring into the league. In fact, there is no direct correlation between age and performance as demonstrated by many of the recent draft classes. When supporters of players being eligible to enter the NBA straight out of high school mention recent ‘One-and-done players’ who are successful in the NBA, the counter is to call them ‘exceptions.’

The reality is every NBA player is the exception. Additionally, there is little to show that players like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, or John Wall needed to stay in school a second year in order to become good players in the NBA. However, there is no escaping the reality that there is always an abundance of players not quite good enough to excel at the highest level of basketball, regardless of how long they prepare before entering the league. A possible solution is changing the NBA draft to resemble the college draft rules of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former number 1 overall picks that spent less than two years in college.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are former No. 1 overall picks who spent less than two years in college.

MLB’s draft rules allow players to declare for the draft straight out of high school but if the player elects to go to college he must stay for at least three years. The NBA should adopt that rule and amend it to two years in college. The NBA is the best place for players to improve their games.

“College coaches work more on masking a player’s weaknesses…rather than improving the player and risk losing in the process,” NBA trainer and ESPN insider David Thorpe said about the issue.

Thorpe’s assessment explains why so many players have several skills that need to be developed, even after spending years in college. If the NBA wants to improve its product then the new commissioner, Adam Silver, and his team needs to hold the million dollar executives who own and operate NBA teams accountable for better scouting and developing of the young players drafted in the NBA.–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on

Co-op City eyes changes but raucous residents are unimpressed


Co-op City, located in the Northeast Bronx along the I-95 corridor on the border of Westchester County, is home to more than 50,000 residents who invest handsomely for a quality lifestyle.

By Carmen Glover

New York City’s largest residential cooperative, Co-op City, operated by Riverbay Corporation, is nestled in the Bronx on the New England Thruway, along the I-95 corridor and bordering Westchester County. It’s 35 sprawling buildings is home to more than 50,000 residents, many of whom showed up at 7:00 p.m. for a forum in Drieser Loop on Monday night to listen to administrators and invited presenters share details about pending changes in the operations of the complex.

Coop city

Many Co-op City residents rely on the MTA’s bus service for transportation but recent changes in the bus routes have disrupted the residents’ lives, causing anger and frustration.

But the forum devolved into an ugly, raucous, shouting fest and chaos when some of the residents, armed with their own agendas, refused to allow the presenters to complete their statements, choosing to hijack the forum and offer long-winded thoughts instead. Annoyed cooperators walked out at various points throughout the evening, fed up with the wanton display of clashing egos and unruly residents who seemed determined to disrupt the event.

Co-op City General Manager Vernon Cooper pleased with residents to listen to presenters but he was ignored as angry residents talked over him and the presenters.

Co-op City General Manager Vernon Cooper pleaded with residents to listen to presenters but he was ignored as angry residents talked over him and the presenters.

“No!,” shouted Margaret, a female resident who seemed to disagree with every statement made by both residents and presenters. Annoyed residents chided her to “be quiet,” to no avail. “Recommendations were made to see if service cuts could be restored,” said Riverbay’s general manager Vernon Cooper, introducing a team of representatives from the,Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), New York City’s transit body, regarding bus service in the area.

Jacqueline Carter, assistant director of government and community relations at the MTA, explained that her team was “able to put together an amazing snapshot” of MTA ridership in Co-op City to determine if it is feasible for restore services that were changed in the past. But when her male counterpart said that a study of 1,000 riders were surveyed on specific days last September and October and a large percentage “were satisfied with the service,” angry residents drowned out his voice with a chorus of “no, no, no!”

MTA Official is ridiculed as he tried in vain to defend the bus changes in Co-op City.

MTA Official is ridiculed as he tried in vain to defend the bus changes in Co-op City.

“You have been meeting with politicians but none of them live here. You said you did  a survey but who did you speak to?” asked Bernard Cylich, a community activist who scolded both the MTA representatives and Riverbay’s management team. Eleanor Campbell, another resident said: “Your numbers stating that only 8% of residents use the bus is not valid,” to sustained applause. “Every bus should go into every loop,” said another resident. “For 30 years the 26 and 28 buses worked fine but you changed it and it’s costing us. You are cutting up the bus service to line your pockets at our expense,” said a female resident, recounting that she now pays $10 each way to and from work instead of $5 due to the changes. Her statements were greeted with deafening applause.

Residents argued that the lines to ask questions were too long. They also argued that they were denied the opportunity to give lengthy speeches or curse out the representatives. Cooper, Riverbay’s general manager, was unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade the residents to follow the rules established for the event. For those who had the opportunity to ask questions, they refused to surrender the microphone, launching into campaign-like soliloquys as frustrated residents seethed.

Co-op City's Administrator Herbert Freeman did not fare well when he tried to interact with residents after he spent the early portion of the event as an observer.

Co-op City’s Administrator Herbert Freedman did not fare well when he tried to interact with residents after he spent the early portion of the event as an observer.

Cooper then introduced Paul Shack and David Carlos by stating: “Many housing developments provide websites about the developments where they live and we felt it was a good idea to provide one for Co-op City.” Shack then said he and his partner “have the pleasure of creating a website for Co-op City,” before airing a two-minute clip about their proposed website which, among other features, would make it possible for residents for pay their carrying charges online. However, residents lost interest when the men insisted that concerns about security of personal information were unnecessary while failing to explain what built-n security features their website would have.

Carter, who left immediately after the MTA’s presentation, urged residents to contact her directly at, to express concerns. 

New changes to the SATs offer mixed bag for students


Graduate Student Katiya Shell sees pros and cons with the newly revamped SATs.

By Onissa Sancho

Students who are now in their sophomore year of high school will be the first group to take the new Scholastic Assessment Tests, better known as the SATs. May 2016 will invite a host of changes regarding the SATs. The shift in rules include: no penalties for wrong answers, depending on location some individuals will be able to take the tests on a computer, the essay is optional and free test preparation classes will be offered online for all interested students. The College Board, which is the association that administers the SATs, will go back to its old way of scoring the tests so that the total points students can score is 1600. Are these changes going to help, or hurt, future college applicants?


High School Junior Vinette Bristol of Brooklyn, NY feels the new SATs will be less challenging but she wouldn’t mind taking them herself.

“I’m happy for the people taking the SATs in the future, but I don’t feel like they’re going to be challenged like I was,” said Vinette Bristol of Brooklyn, N.Y, who is currently a junior in high school and has taken the PSATs about four times and the SATs once. Bristol also said, “I’m kind of disappointed too. Why couldn’t these changes apply to me?”

Bristol and many of her peers will be some of the final students to take the SATs before the changes go into effect in the spring of 2016. A concern for others regarding the upcoming changes to the SATs involves the soon-to-be optional essay. Terrell Singletary, a junior studying chemistry at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, sees problems with making the essay optional.


Chemistry Major Terrell Singletary disagrees with an optional essay on the SATs because he believes it will short-change students.

“I think it is a bad idea to make the essay optional, because if I don’t have to write to get into college, why should I have to write in college?” he said.  Singletary believes that preparing for the SATs encourages students to aim high and strive for better. He admits to once not knowing how to spell a commonly used word, and the fact that he saw its abbreviation on social media websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter made it worse, because he remembered the abbreviation before remembering the word itself. He feels that such an occurrence is common among students who do not read and write as often as they should. An optional essay will not improve that reality, he feels, since essay writing encourages expanded thoughts, vocabulary and expression.

On the other hand, graduate student Katiya Shell, who is studying Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, believes that while all elements of the SATs are important, the skills needed to write a good essay will not improve simply by making the essay mandatory on the SATs.

College Board President David Coleman

College Board President David Coleman, recently announced changes in the SATS that will take effect in May 2016.

“If you don’t have the components of English before the SATs then you’re not really going to have it simply because of an essay,” she said. Shell took the SATs twice, in 2005, just when the points system changed from 1600 to 2400, and again in 2006.

The very first SATs were administered in 1926 to a group of students located in two U.S. colleges. Times have changed immensely since then, which is why the changes to the SATs need to be applied in a modern way. It is important, however, to make sure that students are not short-changed by removing rigor from a series of examinations which provide an important transition from high school to

Onissa Sancho is an intern with Please follow her on Twitter @osjou222.


Which team has the brighter future: the Knicks or the Lakers?

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances for marquee franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances with underperforming franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The New York Knicks formally introduced Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations on Tuesday, March 18, sparking feelings of hope in the minds of optimistic fans. But there are plenty of skeptics who point to the tall task ahead of the “Zen Master” and many of the questions at the press conference were aimed at figuring out Jackson’s commitment to his first position as a basketball executive.

Phil Jackson had all the answers today at the press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

Phil Jackson seemed to have all the answers at Tuesday’s press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

There were a few noticeable takeaways from Tuesday’s press conference. Knicks fans must have felt annoyed to hear Knicks owner James Dolan almost gleefully admit: “I am not a basketball expert,” when he was asked specific questions. Dolan, however, recognized that it was time to hire someone who knows the game and he seemed happy to offer the position to Jackson. For his part, Jackson did not avoid the challenge with being present in New York year round, stating, “I plan to establish myself here [in New York] but I do have doctors and …other family I am committed to in L.A. as well.” With Jackson in the fold, there is a legitimate question as to which marquee, but underperforming franchise has a brighter immediate future: the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers?

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

While Phil Jackson has plenty of experience as a basketball player and coach, current Knicks General Manager Steve Mills is in his first year in the position. This is in stark contrast to the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak who is far more experienced. Kupchak is a former player and champion for the Washington Bullets and Lakers. He has been an executive for the Lakers since the late 1980’s. Kupchak learned directly under one of the best NBA executives of all times in Jerry West and has been the GM since 2000. This wealth of experience should give Lakers fans hope that Kupchak can fix the current mess the team finds itself in.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers head coach Mike  D'Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

There is a great deal of focus on the upcoming season and how these franchises will rebound, yet the Knicks still have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson will have a hard time retaining his position regardless of the team’s final win-loss outcome. The Lakers are already eliminated from playoff contention and their coach, Mike D’Antoni, will have a difficult time convincing Lakers’ management to continue being patient with him, if the Lakers finally come to their senses. Neither team can know what direction their team is headed before they know who the leader of their team will be. Both franchises have to figure out the coach of the future to help create structure for these teams.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams' long term future.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams’ long term future.

The Lakers will have only Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash definitely on the roster for next season. They will have plenty of cap space and their first round draft pick this year. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be over the salary cap next season, whether Carmelo Anthony opts out of his contract or not, and they do not have a first round draft pick this year. Both teams have publicly stated a desire to wait until the summer of 2015, when a host of all-star caliber players become free agents, before they spend the money the team has available under the cap. This process may seem prudent but may not work for the stars of each prospective franchise. Bryant has only two years left on his deal, and maybe in his career. He has been clear in recent comments: “no I’m not that patient…I don’t want to be a part of another season like this,” he has said. Anthony has also been on the record stating, “I want to win championships…in the near future.”

Both teams have several decisions to make about players, personnel and coaches. The Knicks now have a brilliant basketball mind in the front office and a top 5 scorer currently under contract. However, the Lakers will have 2014 and 2015 to strategically spend free agent money, make trades, draft players, and build a championship contender, like they normally do. It’s a toss-up to see if the personnel/coaching/player movements will achieve the desired results for either team.––

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on